Jennifer Whitmore TD

The Government’s solar panel programme for schools is not nearly ambitious enough and falls well short of the rooftop revolution promised by the Minister for Energy, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on energy, was responding to reports that a school in Co. Clare has become the first in the country to produce all its electricity using solar power.

“The entire school community at CBS Primary in Ennis is to be commended for this wonderful achievement. The €67,000 cost of installing 90 solar panels on the roof of the school was met through fundraising, with around €10,000 in electricity savings already achieved in the first year. This means the project will pay for itself in six to seven years.

“Another plus is that excess electricity generated from the solar panels was sold back to the national grid, earning revenue for the school and providing a source of clean, renewable energy to homes and businesses.

“The success of the Ennis initiative has highlighted the shortcomings of the Government’s Solar for Schools programme, which is being rolled out across the country this year. About 4,000 schools will be eligible to apply for up to €10,000 in funding under the scheme.

“However, this scheme will only cover the cost of a six kilowatts system with the installation of around 16 solar panels on the rooftops of schools – the equivalent of what you would see on an average family home.

“In addition, to allow for fluctuations in weather conditions, the Government needs to consider providing schools with extra funding for the purchase of batteries to boost the capacity of solar PV systems.

“The Government’s approach to solar power is lacking in ambition. CBS Primary in Ennis have highlighted what is possible in comparison to what the State is facilitating.

“Energy Minister Eamon Ryan clearly needs a lesson from this school to show him what a real rooftop revolution looks like.”

January 31, 2024

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